In this ground-breaking biography, Oxford classicist Armand D’Angour reconstructs Socrates’ early life, to present an entirely new account of one of history’s most famous figures — one that gives a central role to Aspasia, the most brilliant woman of antiquity.
In 399 BC, Athens famously put Socrates on trial for ‘corrupting young men and introducing new gods.’ In death, he became the world’s greatest philosophical hero. But as this book shows, Socrates was not just a thinker. He was a soldier, who served in many campaigns with distinction, and a lover. Although he married for the first time in his fifties, he had many other liaisons. One encounter in particular, with Aspasia of Miletus, the cleverest woman of the age, would transform his life — and the future direction of Western philosophy.
‘sympathetic and irreverent… a prose of easy elegance and authority’ NAKUL KRISHNA, The Daily Telegraph
‘in this informed and animated re-examination of the philosopher’s youth…D’Angour debunks the assumptions that Socrates came from a lowly background, painting a picture instead of an attractive, strong man from a well-off family, well-educated and ambitious.’ 10 Best Books to read this Spring, Tatler
‘Yet as Alcibiades, another Athenian mentored by Socrates, murmurs in Plato’s Symposium: “None of us really knows Socrates.”… D’Angour attempts to rectify this by constructing a more rounded biography from mentions and whispers found in other sources and by extrapolating from how his contemporaries lived. What we have here is a young, vigorous Socrates, a soldier and a dancer, a musician and a lover… the Oxford professor of Classics is rather good at making a convincing case from slender evidence. And he has form at this. A previous work involved attempting to recreate how ancient Greek music sounded… D’Angour sets about his task with admirable imagination, even a touch of literary flair’ PATRICK KIDD, The Times
‘Armand D’Angour’s Socrates in Love is a terrific read. Part novelistic fantasy biography, part deeply serious, source-based reconstruction, it will appeal in varying ways and measures to readers of different tastes and personal predilections. PAUL CARTLEDGE, Literary Review
‘D’Angour’s… chief success is in reestablishing the importance of human love at the heart European western thought. This book offers a welcome corrective to the the dry, systematic tendencies in modern philosophy.’ JAMES BLACK, Daily Mail
‘Fascinating and revelatory. A penetrating combination of tremendous scholarship, imagination and sympathetic understanding’ WILLIAM BOYD
‘Succeeds brilliantly in achieving something that I had always assumed was impossible: providing a historically grounded portrait of the man Socrates may actually have been. Not merely eye-opening, it is thrilling and moving’ TOM HOLLAND
‘In this brilliant study, Armand D’Angour re-focuses the works of Socrates the Philosopher by looking afresh at the life of Socrates the Man. In doing so, D’Angour does not just provide new insights into Socrates, but into ancient Greek thinking as a whole.’ PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads
‘Write the name Aspasia on your hearts! History, as told by men, has often erased the role of women. Our new champion Armand D’Angour has pieced together the evidence — that a woman of great intellectual powers helped lay the foundations of Western philosophy. This is a delicious and exhilarating piece of serious scholarship.’ HELENA KENNEDY, Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford